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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

Charming Business Girls #5

Astrid Johnson was born in 1906 in Sweden and came to the United States when she was three years old. She attended and graduated from Drummer Township School (1923). She also attended a business school in Chicago. In 1937 she was an officer with the Savings and Loan, the secretary, quite an important position and not one trusted to an actual "girl." Astrid did not marry until 1950 and at that time she was manager of the Gibson Federal Savings and Loan and City Treasurer in Gibson City. She married in Pocahantas, Arkansas to Monnie Wagonseller, the owner of O.K. Sales garage in Gibson City. Astrid was active with the girls scouts as leader of a troop of senior scouts in the 40s in addition to being active with first aid training in the Red Cross during World War II. Astrid is the second immigrant among the Charming Business girls.

Delores and LaVerne Apell were the daughters of Leonard and Bertha Apell. They were born in Minnesota but moved to Illinois in 1927. At the time of the CBG contest they were both working at the Kresge five and dime store on Main Street. more information was available about Delores then LaVerne. Delores, after her marriage to Eldon Doss (an amusement machine repairman), continued to work at places like the Irvin Theater and Hotel Rogers. She also became active with the Community Players as an actress. She worked with the local draft board in the sixties. When grown, her two children lived in California, and in 1969 Delores moved to California, where she met her second husband, John Ravey, with whom she had an interior decorating business. Delores apparently had a creative side to her personality!

Both sisters graduated from Normal Community High School, but LaVerne studied "Commerce" at ISNU for at least two years. She married in 1939 to Robert Feek, a locomotive fireman who later became a brick mason. LaVerne died in Arizona in 2019 and no obituary could be found for her. Melvin Apell, the brother of Delores and LaVerne, was killed in action in Luzon during WWII.

Dorothy Jaspers was an underemployed school teacher in 1937. She had graduated from ISNU as an upper grade teacher but in 1937 was working as a saleslady in a dress shop in downtown Bloomington. Her parents were Edward and Julia Jaspers. Her father was a house contractor. In 1939 Dorothy had a bad run of luck. In March of that year she was riding in a car with Clarno Meece when he wrecked the car and was arrested for drunk driving. Dorothy received facial lacerations in that accident. A month later, Dorothy and her friend Ruth Regan drove to Lexington for dinner. After dinner they were unable to start their car and accepted a ride home with two men from Bloomington. The driver clipped the rear bumper of another car and sent the three passengers to the hospital with cuts, abrasions and bruises. Dorothy decided to get away from Bloomington drivers, married Sydney Letz, and moved to Springfield. Dorothy was one of seven children in her family and her older brother, Loren Jaspers was killed in France during World War II.

Olga Brunton was born Olga Frisch, the daughter of Ralph and Pauline Frisch in Bloomington. Her father was from Germany and her mother was French. She was born in 1898, so she was definitely NOT a "business girl" as the Pantagraph insisted on calling these women. However, as Olga was a divorced woman and mother of a teenager at the time of the contest she would not have been called a girl. (Her daughter, Louise Brunton Griffin, married in 1938 and worked over thirty years in Dr. Stanley Nord's office.) Olga worked all her life in sales. At the time of the contest she was working at Livingston's, but she also worked at Ensenberger's and much later at Pines Smartwear. She had one older brother, who served in France during WW I.

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